Previous methods of identifying cells undergoing DNA synthesis (S-phase) utilized H-3 thymidine (3HT) autoradiography. 5-Bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) immunohistochemistry is a nonradioactive alternative method. This experiment compared the two methods using the nuclear volume model for osteoblast histogenesis in two different embedding media. Twenty Sprague-Dawley rats were used, with half receiving 3HT (1 micro Ci/g) and the other half BrdU (50 microgram/g). Condyies were embedded (one side in paraffin, the other in plastic) and S-phase nuclei were identified using either autoradiography or immunohistochemistry. The fractional distribution of preosteoblast cell types and the percentage of labeled cells (within each cell fraction and label index) were calculated and expressed as mean q standard error. Chi-Square analysis showed only a minor difference in the fractional distribution of cell types. However, there were significant differences (p less than 0.05) by ANOVA, in the nuclear labeling of specific cell types. With the exception of the less-differentiated A+A'cells, more BrdU label was consistently detected in paraffin than in plastic-embedded sections. In general, more nuclei were labeled with 3H-thymidine than with BrdU in both types of embedding media. Labeling index data (labeled cells/total cells sampled x 100) indicated that BrdU in paraffin, but not plastic gave the same results as 3HT in either embedding method. Thus, we conclude that the two labeling methods do not yield the same results for the nuclear volume model and that embedding media is an important factor whenusing BrdU. As a result of this work, 3HT was chosen for used in the PARE.03 flight experiments.